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Neuropsychiatr. 2009;23(1):64-70.

[The discourse of psychosis in contemporary philosophy].

[Article in German]

Author information

  • 1Universitätsklinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie, Medizinische Universität Wien.


The preoccupation of philosophy with madness can be traced back till the Greek antiquity. For many philosophers like Descartes psychotic phenomena were symbols for the fragility of human mental powers, while others like Plato or Nietzsche saw madness as a way to escape the constraints of rationality. After 1960 three direction of contemporary philosophy dealt with the topics madness--schizophrenia--psychosis: Following Nietzsche and Bataille, Foucault as well as Deleuze and Guattari considered schizophrenia as the societal oppressed reverse of modern rationality, a notion which had a strong influence on the anti-psychiatric movement. Philosophical phenomenology primarily focussed on ontological problems of the psychotic existence. Finally Philosophy of Mind, the modern Anglo-American version of analytical philosophy, analyzed the logical coherence of psychotic inferences and experiences. Especially the insights of analytical philosophy may be important for a more sophisticated interpretation of psychopathological research as well as of the new findings of neuroscience.

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